The sad subject of racism has yet again reared its ugly head in this season’s English Premier League.
Liverpool striker has been officially charged by the Football Association of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra.
Suarez and Evra clashed during a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and United on October 15th. Words were exchanged, and after the game Evra insisted that the Uruguay striker had racially abused him.
“There are cameras…you can see him say a certain word to me at least 10 times,” Evra told The Times newspaper. To Evra’s credit, he then let the FA deal with the situation and got on with playing for United.
Suarez has denied the accusations, and took to social media to defend himself. “I can only say that I have always respected and respect everybody. We are all the same,” the Reds forward wrote on Twitter. “I go to the field with the maximum illusion of a little child who enjoys what he does, not to create conflicts.”
While his words were very nice, they sound hollow coming from a man who has also been previously convicted of biting an opponent while playing for AFC Ajax.
Suarez can expect no support from his own dressing room in this matter if he is found guilty, unless Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish goes back on his own word.
Two weeks after the incident, Dalglish insisted he wanted the FA to settle the debate and hand out the appropriate punishment. “Whoever is the guilty party – the person who said it or the accuser – (should) get their due punishment,” Dalglish told BBC Sport. “We look forward to the case coming to a conclusion.”
Now that the case will indeed came to a conclusion, it will be interesting to see if Dalglish and the club remain as “fully supportive” of Suarez if he is found guilty.
If Suarez is found guilty of racism, it is likely that the FA will throw the book at him to send a message. While English football has come a long way from the days when John Barnes or Cyrille Regis had bananas thrown at them by racist crowds, it must be a concern that both Suarez and England captain John Terry are currently involved in allegations of racism.
The FA has released an official statement on the matter that outlined the situation. “It is alleged that Suarez used abusive and/or insulting words and/or behavior towards Manchester United’s Patrice Evra contrary to FA rules,” read the statement.
"It is further alleged that this included a reference to the ethnic origin and/or color and/or race of Patrice Evra.”
Piara Powar is the Executive Director of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) organization and has spoken out on this incident.
“Everyone knows from talking to ex-players tat this is the sort of problem (racism) that went on. And now we see in 2011, going on 2012, it’s still an issue.”
Sadly, Powar is right, and the sooner this problem is driven out of the game the better.